The last character I’ll discuss from Soul Conquest is Courtney. She was older when she was abducted and comes to the gym as terrified as the rest of the slaves had been, but her age and personality help her navigate her trial differently. She is sure of her faith. She doesn’t blame God for her circumstances but is able to continue to trust and believe in Him, which gives her peace and a different kind of strength.
She loves Devin and sees in him the desire to do what’s right. She values the depth of his ability to care for others. Their differences are what help them be the strength the other one needs. Devin comes to respect Courtney’s faith even as he struggles with his own. Courtney is likewise patient with Devin in his personal journey of belief. This is one of the reasons their love grows stronger over the years.
Courtney is determined to survive and Devin helps to give her those skills. There isn’t much written in the book about how Courtney deals with the repercussions of killing in the ring, so I’ll tell you here. She does have nightmares and is haunted by the images that she can’t erase from her mind, but unlike Devin she doesn’t internalize them the same way. She recognizes the right she has to survive, the right someone else has to refuse to kill and those that are really responsible for the wickedness of her dilemma.
Courtney is an optimist like Bailey was. She doesn’t have to work as hard to see the good amidst the bad. Devin needs to be surrounded by people like that. The weight he makes himself carry is a load impossible to bear on his own. If he were alone the weight would crush him. This is why Courtney had to be a part of the story. She was the only person that could save him from the blackness he had chosen to walk in. At the moment Courtney comes into the picture, Devin had lost his will to survive. His body may have still been alive but in every other way he was dying.
The only way to save Devin was through love, and Devin had shut everyone else out, ensuring his own demise. So in comes Courtney, the imperfect girl that held the key to reopen his heart.
Marcel was not a part of my original daydream. I needed a character that would help Devin emotionally so that he could become the person I already knew him to be. Marcel could guide Devin from the start, and help him adjust to his new life. Marcel had an internal struggle of his own, which is only lightly hinted to in the book. Marcel shields Devin and the rest of the gladiators from his own pain so that he can help them with their own. It was Marcel who first suggested that Devin learn to master his emotions and control his tongue. Marcel taught Devin that the less his enemy knew him the better the advantage he would have. Let’s not forget that he gave Devin the opportunity to push himself intellectually.
Now let’s touch a little on Bailey. He becomes Devin’s best friend. As it gets close for Devin’s first real match they become brothers by blood. Bailey is an optimist so he can see beyond what’s happening now. He understands that he’s being forced to act, so he doesn’t internalize what he’s made to do. Instead Bailey pushes the guilt and horror to those that are responsible for it, whereas Devin always blames himself. Bailey however is not as gifted at fighting. Thus, Bailey with the other gladiators, look to Devin for protection from Ante. Due to the horrific circumstances that they are thrust into they become as close as any two brothers can be.
Ante is one of those characters that you just hate from the start. He and Marko are very similar. They refuse to allow anyone into their stone-cold heart. Ante is jealous of Devin from the start. On the streets in Bosnia he was a great fighter so getting knocked out right after Devin and he met was a crushing blow to his pride. As hard as Ante works, he never learns how Devin always has the advantage, which always keeps Ante a step behind. Ante has nothing but glory to fight for, whereas Devin has his friends. Devin keeps his mind active and alert, always pushing himself, like controlling his temper and his tongue. Without those advantages Ante continues to fall a step behind, which only causes his hate of Devin to grow.
I had a conversation with my son today about how I develop my characters. It was an interesting discussion. Every writer does things a little different and it’s interesting to see different ways to do the same thing.
My characters always just appear in the story. As I start daydreaming or writing the story they’re just sort of formed. I know how they’ll act in any situation I put them in. I have occasionally had characters confront a situation in my story and find that it doesn’t feel right for this particular character. At that point I’ll backtrack and make it right.
I do have character cards to help me keep track of my characters. They’re really not so much cards, as they are a word document with the characters and their names. The facts I keep about each of the characters has much more to do with details of their past, their family and their description. Their is almost nothing written on their personality. This is because I intuitively know each character and what they’ll do.
I’m curious as to how you develop your characters? Please comment and let me know.